Sunday Jan 15, 2012

Simplified administration with ZFS

The simplest case in system administration can often be just about one's ability to, inexpensively, move an OS image with as minimal effort as possible.  I recently acquired an old used Sun Ultra 40 system, and this being a long weekend (in the US), decided to allocate time to make it my primary desktop system.  Well, turns out I didn't need a weekend -- all I needed was 1 hour, a screwdriver and Scorpions to keep me company -- a thought-provoking combination.

Your mileage may vary, of course, based on what you already have in place, i.e. what your starting point and destination points are. In my case, I was looking at migrating from an older HP Pavilion desktop model a1150y, that I previously outfitted with 4GB of RAM (for $60 from Amazon) and 2 mirrored 1.5TB SATA drives (for $100 or so, each, prior to the flooding in Thailand that has since caused a spike in hard disk pricing). I'd been running a version of Oracle Solaris 11 Express that I have been updating to SRUs (Support Repository Updates) as they were being released by Oracle. Since the disks were mirrored when installed on the HP system, I simply broke the mirror by disconnecting one of the disks (no advance zfs commands were necessary), and plopped the 1.5TB disk into the Ultra 40.  At the time when Ultra 40's were being sold by Sun, the largest SATA disks that were sold by Sun for this model (if my memory serves me right) had been of 750GB capacity. Taking off the hard disk brackets from original disks in the Ultra 40, and attaching them to the bigger disk took the most time in this exercise (that, and proofreading this blog entry). As soon as the system was powered-on, the 4 year old Phoenix BIOS had no issues detecting the ZFS submirror and the GRUB menu simply came up -- showing all of the Boot Environments (why they're important) that had been created over the lifespan of the OS installation from when it'd been on the HP desktop.

All Boot Environments are shown below:

isaac@HPensolaris:~# beadm list
BE             Active Mountpoint Space   Policy Created         
--             ------ ---------- -----   ------ -------         
151a-july11    -      -          12.29M  static 2011-07-18 12:54
151a-july11-1  -      -          15.34M  static 2011-09-19 15:12
S11EwithSRU11  NR     /          8.63G   static 2011-10-10 09:18
before_168     -      -          87.91M  static 2011-07-02 18:46
snv_150        -      -          49.48M  static 2010-10-17 11:05
snv_150-bkup   -      -          6.85M   static 2011-03-17 00:58
snv_150-bkup-1 -      -          356.53M static 2011-07-02 18:47
snv_151a_ga    -      -          10.59M  static 2011-03-17 11:57

It would probably be unfair to hint at the performance improvement being seen on this machine, without mentioning that there's now 16GB of RAM addressable by Solaris, vs. 4GB. The processing power of 2 socket dual-core AMD CPUs at 3.2GHz is gargantuan compared to the 3GHz single socket dual-core Pentium 4 in the older HP machine.  This is just an artifact and a reality -- I did not perform any benchmarking activities on these two machines -- that's not the aim here.  One of the other reasons why I wanted to make the switch away from that HP desktop model was because the HP desktop's fan had always been working extra hard and generated noise that became almost unbearable to deal with.  Looking into it further had been something I'd planned on doing but never gotten around to doing. Now it can be a system used for Solaris 11 Automated Installation (and related) testing.

Yeah, the fact that the ZFS dataset submirror just worked, in a different system, albeit of the same architecture (after being moved) is slick! (ZFS is the only root file system available on Solaris 11 for a number of reasons, one of which is our reliance on conducting system updates by leveraging the benefits and features of ZFS such as snapshots and clones). No fsck, and firefox/thunderbird/office productivity (read: youtube) are all much faster now.

The next thing to do here is to add the 2nd disk from that HP machine, to correct the following condition being tracked automatically by the Solaris Fault Management subsystem.

isaac@HPensolaris:~# zpool status
  pool: rpool
 state: DEGRADED
status: One or more devices could not be opened.  Sufficient replicas exist for
    the pool to continue functioning in a degraded state.
action: Attach the missing device and online it using 'zpool online'.
 scan: resilvered 10.8G in 0h8m with 0 errors on Mon Oct 18 08:06:03 2010

    rpool          DEGRADED     0     0     0
      mirror-0     DEGRADED     0     0     0
        c13t0d0s0  ONLINE       0     0     0
        c9d0s0     UNAVAIL      0     0     0  cannot open

errors: No known data errors

isaac@HPensolaris:~# fmdump -v|tail -10
          Location: -

Jan 15 19:20:03.5998 f6f64adc-b226-cbd7-9829-eedc74efdfd5 ZFS-8000-D3 Diagnosed
  100%  fault.fs.zfs.device

        Problem in: zfs://pool=rpool/vdev=fb5057fa88f00c2f
           Affects: zfs://pool=rpool/vdev=fb5057fa88f00c2f
               FRU: -
          Location: -

Wednesday Nov 23, 2011

S11 launched

Now that Oracle Solaris 11 is out, its time to do 2 things --

1) Its time to see what's in it, what's new and why its important, and then assess why it might make sense to begin evaluating it for your needs


2) Its time to acknowledge, give thanks to and congratulate all the R&D personnel, architects, engineers, designers and testers who've put in so much effort and energy into helping make Solaris 11 (and SunOS 5.11) what it has become -- starting way back circa 2004 and, more importantly, culminating in the recent years and months -- staying focused on the execution, unwavering in the face of various challenges.

For #1 above, here are a few good things to get going with

- Watch the product launch replay

- Visit the Solaris 11 Spotlight section on

- Get comfortable through introductory videos and detailed "how-to" guides (ex: how to create and publish IPS packages), white papers on the new default root file system, ZFS, and reap the benefits brought on by the fundamental shift in easing the administration experience

- Look at the next level of software lifecycle management that is enabled by technologies such as Automated Installer and Image Packaging System -- that dramatically address patch management-related challenges

- Understand how we continue to innovate in areas of service intelligence, reliability and availability

- Start to evaluate enhancements in virtualization capabilities -- whether influenced by the need to consolidate or motivated by the need to have increased service mobility across physical systems, leveraging hardware-level abstractions

- Gain more control over your network-centric services through enhancements in network resource management, observability and I/O performance

- Look beyond your existing infrastructure with confidence that you can re-host and transition to newer systems with the use of Solaris 10 zones running on top of Solaris 11

- Relish in the fact that you can do all this, get your data to be secure and encrypted and more, on both, SPARC and x86-based systems.

- Stay informed by keeping an eye on relevant blogs, which we've begun turning up recently.

- Go through a hands-on lab

- Sign up to take a class or just opt to watch various videos to begin to raise your comfort level with these technologies

For #2 above --

There are many ways to do that. One way is to just say "thanks" with an email, a post, or a simple card,  similar to this one seen at a Barnes and Noble store recently.  The front of the card is followed by what's inside... and as the saying goes, now more then ever "it's what's inside that counts"

And here's the inside of the card:

So, what are you waiting for ? Go download and try it out, and please let us know what you think of it!

Tuesday Nov 22, 2011

Solaris Day in NY and Boston

Hey all, --

We're hosting yet another Solaris event in New York -- this one will be on November 29th and focused on some key in-depth technologies in Solaris 11, which had just been released earlier this month.  Speakers include Dave Miner, Glenn Brunette and Jeff Victor.  It starts in the morning and goes through lunch; check out the agenda from the below link. Topics include: new and improved installation and package management experience, virtualization, ZFS and security.

Please check it out and come join us! The RSVP link is below

Additionally, if you are in the Boston area, an identical event will be held in Burlington the following day, on November 30th. The RSVP link for that is

Hope to see you there!

Thursday Oct 27, 2011

Come join us as we launch Solaris 11 in New York!

We are gearing up to launch Oracle Solaris 11.  Here is a formal invitation to join us at a live event for this 6+ years-in-the-making occasion.
Join Oracle executives Mark Hurd and John Fowler along with Oracle Solaris engineering personnel at the Oracle Solaris 11 launch event in New York, Gotham Hall on Broadway, November 9th and learn how you can build your infrastructure with Oracle Solaris 11 to:

   * Accelerate internal, public, and hybrid cloud applications
   * Optimize application deployment with built-in virtualization
   * Achieve top performance and cost advantages with Oracle Solaris 11–based engineered systems

The launch event will also feature exclusive content for our in-person audience including a session led by Markus Flierl,  VP of Core Solaris development and his engineering leads on Solaris 11 and a customer insights panel during lunch. We will also have a technology showcase featuring our latest systems and Solaris technologies. The Solaris executive team will also be there throughout the day to answer questions and give insights into future developments in Solaris. Come meet the folks behind the scenes and spend the day with us as we illustrate how the upcoming release of Solaris is ready to address tomorrow's business problems.

Following Executive Staff from Solaris organization will be available for customer conversations:

John Fowler, Markus Flierl, Bill Nesheim, Chris Armes, Lynn Rohrer, Charlie Boyle, Scott Tracy, Marshall Choy

Following Solaris Engineers will be on-hand and available for customer conversations:

Liane Praza, Bart Smaalders, Daniel Price, Nicolas Droux, David Comay, Leonid Grossman, Mark Maybee, David Brean, Ethan Quach, Jan Setje-Eijers, Rafael Vanoni, Darren Moffat

Following Solaris Product Managers will be on-hand and available for customer conversations:

Joost Pronk, Glynn Foster, Alex Barclay, Dominic Kay, Larry Wake, Isaac Rozenfeld

Don't miss the Oracle Solaris 11 launch in New York on November 9.

Tuesday Oct 25, 2011

OTN Interview

Ethan Quach and I were recently videotaped  discussing key improvements in Oracle Solaris 11 deployment model and simplified installation experience.  The 17 minute video clip is available on Oracle Technology Network.

Monday Oct 10, 2011

S11 Automated Install Hands-on-Lab

Update: May 2012 - due to certain infrastructure improvements on, the files are now also available in the My Oracle Support Communities section, specifically here


I have now posted the materials that I used in this year's Hands-on-Lab on new Solaris 11 Installation technologies that had been held in the Marriott that rainy Wednesday morning midway through Oracle OpenWorld 2011.  Thanks to all of you who made it and kept me and the rest of my proctors on our toes! The materials include a guide in the form of ~90+ slides, as well as a compressed package of configuration files that otherwise would need to be typed in by the end-user. So, if you'd like to avoid the unnecessary typing go ahead and grab that file here if you wish.  This was the first time I gave the talk with so much content in it, and by some accounts it was probably quite ambitious of me - given that people's experiences in the room were so diverse. I'm going to be making some adjustments to the materials and if you've got any comments and suggestions for how you'd like to see this done differently or, perhaps, better -- please go ahead and do let me know.   I'd like to thank the following folks for helping me carry out the in-person lab activity: Dave Miner, Karen Tung, Scott Dickson, Brian Leonard, Martin Widjaja, Marek Pospisil, the Oracle lab team who supplied the laptop gear -- and of course the entire Install team whose technologies we had been putting to good use, including the folks from IPS, Zones, ZFS storage engineering and, of course, Virtualbox!  Check out the following Spotlight on Simplified Administration for more information on Installation and Upgrade improvements.

Thursday Sep 15, 2011


The Oracle Solaris 11 Express ecosystem has received quite a bit of innovation, arguably more so then some of what we've been able to bake into some latest Solaris 10 update releases.   For example, today we've posted Solaris 10 8/11 release. Read more on that here.  You'll see how Oracle Solaris is: 

  • #1 Enterprise OS

  • #1 platform for Oracle Database deployment

  • #1 application portfolio: over 11, 000 third-party applications

  • The only enterprise UNIX supported on both x86 and SPARC, the two most popular enterprise architectures

  • #1 UNIX volume leader for more than a decade

Fundamentally, the activities reflect on work we've been doing over the past 6+ years, spanning a multitude of Solaris engineering groups and vendor relationships - ranging from i/o subsystem optimizations, enhancements to network performance, scalability, virtualization, x86/SPARC work, growing work with traditional Oracle software portfolio teams, etc.  One of the areas seeing fueled investment has been the area of an improved lifecycle management experience, comprised of simplified installation and upgrading.   Today we've launched a new section in the "Spotlight on Oracle Solaris" pages over on Oracle Technology Network, specifically focusing on the modernized Installation experience, where you can get more information such as how-to documentation, a number of podcasts, engineering interviews, videos, techcasts -- to get a better understanding what you, as a customer, will benefit from when deploying Oracle Solaris in a datacenter near you.  Just this week I'd been in 2 separate meetings with 2 banks who have openly confirmed their appreciation for what Solaris has meant (and continues to mean) to them, and how they value unique tracing, performance and above all - stability.  And you know banks -- they have pretty rigid requirements and use-cases. Anyone who suggests Oracle Solaris has "no value and is dead" couldn't be more further from the truth.

Monday Sep 12, 2011

S11 growing ISV adoption

It is here!  Oracle Solaris 11 Early Adopter release has been posted and is available for download for members of the Oracle Partner Network.   Primarily aimed at Independent Software Vendors and developers developing software for deployment on the cross-platform (SPARC/x86) Oracle Solaris ecosystem,  this release is based on build 173, which means it is really fresh and the features and bug fixes for the planned release are nearly finalized.  There are thousands of new features and customer-requested enhancements in this release, since the release of Oracle Solaris 10 in 2005 --  leading up to the release of Oracle Solaris 11 soon this year.   It has been a year since the release of Oracle Solaris 11 Express in September of 2010, and we've all been very very busy, particularly in the areas of simplifying the Installation and software life-cycle management!  Check it out and get ready to surf the clouds with your choice of secure, trusted, virtualized, reliable, manageable platforms like you've never done before!

Friday Jul 08, 2011

Technology, fundamentals and kids

Technology, like most consumables, continues to evolve and present itself in more and more areas of our daily lives.  (Personal and desktop) computers were, at some point, touted as enablers and were supposed to free us and empower us to do more with our time.   If anything, most of us have become either resilient to technology or completely dependent on it.  Watching (my) kids has allowed me to make some interesting observations about where we are going, given the pace of technology adoption -- and the obvious danger in ignoring the fundamentals. In July 2011, my family of 4 has 2*n-1 computing devices - that's almost 2 per person (and I am talking about Apple products alone here!).  Contrasting to where we were just 20 years ago, where and when I had been growing up -- times have dealt us some interesting cards vis a vis enormous changes.   One of the challenges that we're struggling with a bit, is constantly navigating the technology maze with intent to illustrate to our kids that (at least in the consumer industry) technology is merely an enabler, and not a panacea. "txt me whn u gt hm" is an anti-exercise in Wheel Of Fortune where dropping, not buying, vowels is done deliberately, at 5-95 cents a message. "How kewl iz dat?" - not cool, most of the time.  I often yearn for the days of pre-consumer electronics era, recalling what it was like growing up as a kid - looking at, and interacting with people, as opposed to screens powered by intelligent software running on energy-efficient hardware.  A friend I spoke with yesterday had told me he prefers to be reading a book, not a nook. In the world of increased mobility and space consciousness, we each make our own decisions - but what decisions do we make for our kids who look up to us and copy our (almost) every move? What do you do when both parents are in the field of technology?   This topic, no doubt,  has gotten its fair share of research from various professionals.  I'm always looking for  ways to impress upon my kids the relevance of fundamental ingredients of our life that came way before their modernized technological counterparts ever existed.  Books, conversations, music, sports, etc. - a right mix is important for a good potion to be appreciated.  It is always interesting to see new  ways to illustrate the magic of books, for example, as we've witnessed the popularity of Harry Potter series over the last few years.  Acknowledging the already successful moguls serving the inquisitive minds of the toddler, I recently came across something new - a new character set being introduced -- and that illustrates, to some extent, non-conformance with already well-established characters and brands.   Seeing that such innovation actually extends to places for even younger audiences is really heartwarming. I am writing about AdoraPet Children's books and toys (  As if out of nowhere I bumped into something new that reaches out to young children's imagination, through stories involving routine, daily activities through the eyes of 2 friendly puppies.   The approach illustrates fresh thinking and desire to help kids discover the world by engaging in basic activities of reading, playing, dreaming and achieving. Coupled with a sampling of different job roles, I think  kids can actually gain a better and faster understanding through reading by comprehending what's involved - through yet another group of friendly characters -- and (more times then not) without having to be glued to the TV screen, or engaged in a pop-corn-smelling-overpriced-hot-dog-or-nachos-soda-combo-movie-theater-experience.  Now isn't that a pretty revolutionary idea? (I don't hold any financial interest in the company).

Wednesday Mar 23, 2011

Solaris Online Forum

We are putting on a first ever Oracle Solaris Online Forum event - with a solid agenda, speaker line-up and direct access to speakers via the chat capability. Hear from IDC, VP of Solaris engineering, Solaris engineering leadership and product teams on what is happening and how it will benefit you.

Date: April 14th
Time: 12pm ET / 9am PT



9:00am - 9:45am PT
Oracle Solaris Strategy Overview, Bill Nesheim, VP Oracle Solaris Engineering

9:45am - 10:00am PT
An Industry Analyst's View of the Operating System Market, Gary Ghen, IDC

10:00am - 10:45am PT
Manage Your Deployments with IPS and AI, Bart Smaalders, Dave Miner, Glynn Foster, Isaac Rozenfeld, Oracle

10:45am - 11:30am PT
Get More out of your Oracle Solaris environments with Virtualization, Dan Price, Nicholas Droux, Duncan Hardie, Oracle

11:30am - 12:15am PT
Learn How All New Features in Oracle Solaris 11 Raise the Bar for Operating Systems, Markus Flierl, Liane Praza, Joost Pronk, Oracle

Please register \*in advance\* to attend this FREE online event !

Wednesday Mar 16, 2011

Solaris 11 ecosystem ...for SysAdmins

Solaris 11 Express came out in November 2010, with the Solaris 11 release being imminent - it is a vehicle for getting introduced to technologies that are shaping the Solaris ecosystem going forward. There are technologies that constitute the fundamental basis for value-rich stack present in Oracle products, by Oracle as well as by a number of customers \*today\*. Here is a great video describing the relevance with specific examples to be aware of, particularly how new architecture provides an integrated system and offers simplified administration. Rick Ramsey interviews Markus Flierl, Liane Praza and Dan Price from core Solaris Engineering.

Tuesday Feb 15, 2011

Solaris cloud

Interesting what the folks up at JoyentCloud are up to with the Solaris-based cloud offering. From the first looks of it (and knowing who is involved in engineering of it all), it appears as precisely what you'd expect a cloud infrastructure to be: (a) performant (b) 100% reliable (c) robust (d) affordable (e) compliant :-)

Thursday Jan 27, 2011

Toward hyperclouds

Oracle is hosting a Enterprise Cloud Summit event in various cities across North America this month.  I had the honor of being on stage on Broadway, again, in giving the talk on Infrastructure as a Service for Enterprises - a discussion on Oracle's role in Cloud Computing, backed by reference implementations and case studies of how we, at Oracle, "drink our own champagne" (c/o Jeff Epstein) and are successfully using cloud infrastructures, methodologies and tools for in-house software development, testing, and quality assurance.  A key, succinct definition of what cloud computing means to me is its evolving dynamics inherent to the intersection of the laws of physics and laws of economics.  Quite a bit of the infrastructure and platform service-enabling technologies came with the acquisition of Sun Microsystems earlier last year. Have a look at the subject of my talk and let me know what you think!

Sunday Jan 16, 2011

Solaris Days XIII ...with Audio!

Hello and Happy New Year! 2011 is promising to be a fun, surprising and exciting year!

With the help of audio professionals who took care of sound systems at the NY/NJ events last month, I have made available the audio recordings of last month's Solaris Days Part XIII - and have modified my December blog entry to include references to individual sound clips pertaining to each of the presenter's sessions. Since the ordering between the NY and the NJ sessions had been different, the agenda had been re-arranged to represent the sequence from the NJ session, along with the relevant audio files hyper-linked throughout.


Sunday Dec 05, 2010

Solaris Day - Part XIII - December 2010

This past week we had yet another installment of Solaris Days - a 2-day tour of New York City and Bridgewater, New Jersey specifically focusing on Solaris-related activities and technologies that our customers are becoming increasingly aware of, and consuming.  Solaris is an important asset for Oracle; innovations in Solaris are ongoing, particularly with a focus on making it the OS of choice for increased internal service and application development deployments, as well as a stronger choice in Oracle's strong software portfolio.

As part of demonstrating Oracle's commitment to the Solaris ecosystem in the post-acquisition era, Solaris 11 Express was recently released and we had number of senior Solaris seasoned architects & developers from across the US come meet with customers, partners and community as a whole, to articulate the innovations in Solaris technologies and appropriate implications to our customers' businesses.

The over-encompassing, albeit Solaris-focused, presentation agenda looked like below (with the order slightly being different for the 2nd day in NJ, due to customer meetings that had been setup in advance) - the slides are available below for your consumption.  If you are interested in hearing about these events in the future, please subscribe to our NYC OpenSolaris user group  mailing list.

8:30        Registration & Breakfast

9:00         Welcome Back, AgendaIsaac Rozenfeld [Audio] Focus on Financial Services - Ambreesh Khanna [Audio]

9:10        Solaris Networking Virtualization – Nicolas Droux [Audio]

10:00        Solaris Zones Update – Dan Price [Audio]

10:45        Image Packaging System – Bart Smaalders [Audio]

11:30        Platform Updates: x86 and SPARC – Sherry Moore [Audio]

12:15        Lunch, Isaac Rozenfeld's bonus session on running Solaris on top of the VirtualBox hypervisor [Audio]

1:00        Solaris Integration into Oracle – Damien Farnham [Audio]

1:45        Leaping Forward with Solaris Infiniband – David Brean [Audio]

2:30        Installation Experience Modernization – Dave Miner [Audio]

3:15        Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center – Mike Barrett [Audio]

4:00        Service Management Facility Architecture and Deployment – Liane Praza [Audio]

4:45        Q&A/Raffle

Hats off to all engineers/speakers who traveled to make this content-rich event possible, as well as to the entire Sun/Oracle marketing folks who provided excellent logistics support. Most of all - thank YOU, our customers and attendees, for asking the questions, interacting and providing excellent candid feedback regarding areas
where to take Solaris to keep meeting your growing needs! And, congratulations to the raffle/book winners!

'till next time!


Isaac Rozenfeld is a Product Manager for Oracle Solaris; current responsibilities include the portfolio of networking and installation technologies in Solaris, with a focus on easing the overall application deployment experience

You can follow Isaac on Twitter @izfromsun


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